November approaches and so too a month of celebrating writing. For some it is the month of AcWriMo, while for many of my own undergraduate students, it is a time to be busy with projects and writing assignments.
One thing I often find is how teachers will reluctantly share their real world learning with students. Even though teachers are already so busy with teaching, increasing loads of administration work and ever larger classrooms, it is by sharing their learning with students, that educators set examples and often leave students reflecting. Whether one is involved in academic studies, professional training, or other activities which serve as models, (e.g. doing sport, learning/playing a musical instrument and so forth) , I find it a positive attitude to share this with students; not in the sense of giving them details of the courses/training, but by letting them understand that learning is a constant journey, and does not end at the school gate or after graduation.
It is within this context of sharing that the joyful rules of AcWriMo may also be adapted to other classrooms. In a nutshell, these are AcWriMo's rules for this coming November:
1 - Set yourself some crazy goals;
2 - Publicly declare your participation and goals;
3 - Discuss what you are doing;
4 - Don't slack off;
5 - Publicly declare your results.
This can be put into practice in writing classes (e.g. allowing students to write fiction or non-fiction, poetry or prose) and the teacher would participate for one month. There could be lessons where writing problems could be discussed (e.g. how to link ideas and narratives, developing characters). In brief, a special month dedicated to writing workshops where the focus is on the pleasures of writing.
Literary Elements Mapping is an interactive map by Read Write Think, which helps learners focus as they prepare their plots. The Circle Plot Diagram is another interactive task by Read Write Think, that helps learners focus on their writing process.
If this seems too much, then there is always another alternative!
Lillie McFerrin has developed Home of Five Sentence Fiction, . Once a week McFerrin posts a word to inspire a story with five sentences.
Teachers can easily adapt this example and have the whole class contribute. Stories can be written in students' blogs or simply put around the classroom for everyone to read how that particular word was used to inspire a short, very short, story.
Language Virus offers a treasure of resources for writing, from Creative Writing Games to Generating Poetry . Definitely a site any writing teacher would be interested in exploring.
Bitesize by the BBC has a page for sentence writing and one for paragraph writing, which in turn are followed up with an interactive task. The Children's University of Manchester, has a new site, which together with the above pages of Bitesize, are great for younger learners.
Finally for today, I'd still like to highlight Quabel , a tool to help writers focus and set writing goals, and a new site by the Open University, which has an excellent page on Being Digital.
Here you find interactive tasks covering plagiarism, filtering information quickly, and other online skills which college and university students need to develop.
With so many different options to choose from, November will surely be a month of celebrating writing and unleashing creativity!
How will you be encouraging writing this November?